Cousin Island is a granitic island covering 27 hectares and lies approximately 2km from Praslin island. It became the world’s first internationally owned-reserve when it was purchased in 1968 by the International Council for the Protection of Birds (ICBP), now Birdlife International. The objective was to save the last remaining population of the Seychelles warblers. First made into a Nature Reserve in 1968 it was afforded further protection when it was designated a Special Reserve in 1974. It is not only significant for sea birds and endemic land birds but is also the most important breeding site for Hawksbill turtles in the Western Indian Ocean . The reserve is managed solely by local staff and benefits local communities on the neighboring Praslin island through eco-tourism.
Looking around Cousin today, it is hard to believe that this vibrant and diverse island ecosystem was once a coconut plantation. When the island was first settled in the early 1900's, the original vegetation on the plateau was cleared to make way for profitable coconut trees as well as a small garden. Cousin has been successfully restored to its original vegetation, creating homes for many endemic species of land birds and important beeding sites for seabirds.
Today, Cousin is managed by Nature Seychelles. Conservation activities include monitoring of the island's biodiversity, research, re-introduction of endangered species such as the Seychelles Magpie Robin, ecotourism and education.
Cousin has received international awards for its conservation and ecotourism efforts by Conde Nast Traveler and Bristish Airways.